You Put Your Right Foot Out…

The exercise is going well.  I’m meeting my goal of putting in at least 1/2 hour of some sort of exercise, outside of what I normally get on the job, at least five of every seven days.  I figured that I got ten hours’ worth in last week, and I’m hoping to keep this going.

Already, I feel like I have more energy, overall, which is an incredible thing for a fibromite such as myself.  Those spoons are hard to come by, and having more of them is simply AMAZING, especially after only a few days.

But enough about that…I’m sure there will be plenty more in the future.  For now, some words about where I’ve been walking the past few days!

Sunday, April 29, 2012:

After returning home from a First Communion Party, we did some yardwork.  Nothing extensive, but it did require a bit of walking around behind a spreader.  We put the swing together and rewarded ourselves with a nice sit-down, in between the lilacs.

Our quite lovely flowering crab trees, and yard, on the overcast Sunday of fertilizing:

Smells good, too!

Gazebing, anyone?

For once, you can tell when to turn off the highway into our driveway!

 Monday, April 30, 2012:

We stopped for grass seed (we’d fertilized on Sunday) to overseed some bare areas, so without even stopping to change (often my *wall* moment after a long day of work), we got down to it, doing yardwork.  It was a spetacularly gorgeous spring day: sunny, dry, 70s, mosquitoes not yet out (though ticks are). I got so happy out there moving around, I asked Justin if we could go and find the trails we’d found last fall behind our house.  Plus, I wanted to find our property stakes to see how far back into the woods was ours. He agreed, and we set out.

On Monday, entering the Unknown Beyond The Mown of our property:

 

Those little ones really scratch up your legs…

Ah, the pines! And a meadow! And sunshine!

This marks the SW corner of our property, it seems, although we didn’t make this pile.

On the interesting trails (we still have no ideas whose they are…they cross several property lines…but we hope to find out to ask formal permission to use them.  For now, we’ve seen nary a “No Trespassing” sign, and these nearly abut our own property, so what the heck.  It’s GORGEOUS back there!

Justin in the distance; we’re careful not to step in snake holes (or whatever is living in the treacherous holes we found).

A little fairy circle of pines that is totally enchanting! I could live there.

Moss-covered trails. Also has violets and other lovelies.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012:

I’d signed up to join the teachers’ group that has an Adopt-a-Highway section along a four-lane (with median) Highway #169 south of Onamia, MN.  Today was the day…and we lucked out!  It wasn’t raining as we’d thought.  It was, however, extremely muggy and quite warm.  Because I’d signed up and we ride together, Justin joined us (and wound up much happier for it).

Here’s us wearing our lovely fluorescent yellow vests, me sweating like mad:

We won’t talk about the hair; it was pinned up, which is all I required.

Views down the highway:

Our new friend (that we moved from the shoulder to the wetland in the ditch).

 

Aloysius.

The ditches, full of reeds and marsh, were full of red-winged blackbirds, and they were gorgeous. One of the group found a $20 bill, under a little scrap of paper. Justin and I discovered the remains of a snowmobile crash…plenty of windshield pieces still around.  People threw out, or lost, pieces of plywood, dozens of weird little blue plastic squares we couldn’t identify, some straps, and a large 8-gallon bucket (now full of marshwater and mud that Justin emptied).  The ditches were also full of ticks; Justin’s found two so far since we got home.

When we first began our section (Justin and I were a pair, walking south), I thought to pick up cigarette butts as well as larger pieces of garbage.  After about fifty feet, I saw the sheer idiocy of such a plan; without a garbage poking stick or claw, it was ridiculous to think we could cover our mile-plus section if we did so, let alone being physically able to bend over that often.  As it is, I’ll likely be very sore tomorrow–waist, backs of my legs, and the usual top-of-foot tendons–from bending over every four seconds to pick crap up, sweat pouring in my eyes and stinging.  (Next time: sweatband, plus better gloves.)

The walk back, since we got to set down the heavy bags and just pick up things we’d missed, was extremely pleasant.  By that time, there was a whole group of us heading back, and it was an added bonus that I got to know some of my coworkers better (two of them in this grouping were elementary teachers, so I don’t know them at all).

The sweat dried, I got to wash off in cool, lavender-smelling water when I got home, I worked up an honest appetite (chicken and two kinds of veg, tonight), and it was 75 minutes of very good exercise that also benefitted the Earth. Ain’t nothing wrong with any of that!

 

A Walk in the Woods

I’m 46, I’m fat, I’m sedentary, and I have a gazillion health problems.

For years, I’ve viewed my body as my enemy, or at the very minimum a foreign entity with which I’m saddled against my will.  Not a healthy perspective.  Moving has helped a great deal–I’m not sure how I can explain the connection between my self-concept and my immediate environment, so you’ll just have to take me on faith that the ground I walk on is important to me, as is the view from my window and the smell in the air. Now that I’m surrounded by trees, smelling pine, I’m happier.

But I’m still 46, fat, sedentary, with health problems…and possible more surgery upcoming (but I won’t think about that now, because it may not happen).

For a couple of years, I’ve had the pipe dream that I wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail. Not all 2100 miles of it, certainly not at once, but *part* of it. Even a small part. For someone with my health conditions, as dependent as I am on pharmacology multiple times a day to keep living, that’s a big pipe dream.  Lately, I’ve decided, against all conventional wisdom, that I’ll do it. A hundred miles a year, maybe.  Starting (as we all like milestones) the summer after I turn fifty.

Which gives me four years to slim down, get in shape, try to get rid of some of the medicines I need (or least find ones lightweight and easy to pack…), and learn what I need to learn to not die the first five miles.

I’m very, very excited. Seriously excited.

Aside from just reading books (another blog entry, that one) and looking at maps, I’ve had to start, well, *walking*. Not quite hiking yet (although I have hiking sticks with me), but at least forward motion, not on pavement, for more than a few minutes at a time.  Another good thing about my move is that there are gazillions of hiking trails in my area, not least of which is a series of trails many miles long, of varying difficulty levels, practically out my front door.  Seriously.

I’ve gone out walking a few times now, and this week I set a new goal: I need to get at least a half-hour of exercise in, every five days out of seven, minimum. So far so good.  Aside from walking, I have big plans of joining the golf course here and taking up golf (after twenty-five freaking years), and getting my canoe water-ready and in the Rum River which is a block from my house.

My first few attempts were wonderful disasters.  Wonderful in that I felt awesome and walked and walked and walked and walked–for two hours or more–which left FibroGirl here *wasted* for days and days afterward, barely able to breathe. It feels so good at the time, I don’t feel like stopping.  But I’m learning.  I need to build. (Note: it’s not muscle-pain that slays me–there’s not even a whole lot of that–but absolute exhaustion, mental and physical, that is the fallout in fibro, and the deep, chronic, non-muscle-strain type of pain that is debilitating.)

My short terms goals are simple: by this upcoming autumn, I hope to be able to walk for a day (a few hours, with breaks) with a small pack with lunch, without wiping out my whole week. And lose 50 pounds.

By next summer, I hope to have lost another 50 pounds and by the following autumn, be able to weekend hike to walk-in camp sites, with full pack.

I’ll worry about further goals leading up to the AT (I figure three weeks’ worth at a time, every summer, for that) later.  These first ones, first. And if takes me longer, who cares.  I’m not going to fret about that.  As thruhikers on the AT tend to say, “Hike your own hike.” This is me, doing something for me, on MY damn time.

In order to help me forward with my goals, I plan to blog fairly regularly about my hikes, with photos.  I’ve already made lists of places nearby (within an hour or two of home) to hike on weekends this summer, and I want to keep it interesting.  I want the hikes themselves to be worthy, not just a means to an end. I want to live in the present while I’m preparing for the future.

To begin, some pictures and notes from walks (hikes) already taken this spring, in and around Milaca, MN and Onamia, MN:

Hike #1: March, 2012.

This was the day we discovered the trails just across the road from us.  It was an unseasonably warm day in March, not covered in snow (but only patches) because this spring has been so weird, and we set out to see what was up Riverside Drive across the highway from us.  We found, first of all, a gorgeous, hilly, expansive cemetery, and secondly, paths from it to all over the place.  This particular day we chose to walk down to town via the path over the Rum River, to Rec Park,  then across town to my mother’s nursing home for a visit.

Justin, on the road leading up to what will be new discoveries for us:

Justin, Riverside Drive Milaca, March 11, 2012

Forest Hill Cemetery, MilacaMilaca Trails

 

Bridge from cemetery to Rec Park, over the Rum River

Hike #2: April, 2012.

We walked up to the cemetery again, but decided to take the paths west from it to see where they went.  There are many categories of trails here…miles and miles of them…but they all start here.  We walked around a slough, through some woods and bogs, to the river, and back again via a stand of pines. We walked for hours, and it was incredibly pleasant. I’d forgotten my walking stick, however, and only grabbed a branch partway through.  Not a mistake I’ll likely make again.

Milaca Trails Map

Discovering new paths!

Rum River

 

Hike #3: April 23, 2012.

Took the Milaca trails again, but this time on a different route, one that resulted in very up-and-down, hilly, densely wooded trails, and our getting lost, basically, not knowing the way back.  It was hella fun, though, and we did make it back after a couple of hours.  Wiped me out, but was pretty darn worth it!

 

Off we go! With walking sticks!

 

Smile! We're walking!

 

 

Hike #4: April 24, 2012.

Onamia, MN, is on the Soo Line Trail, a long ATV/bike trail that runs from Genoa, MN (southwest of Onamia) to Superior, Wisconsin, over 114 miles away. Across Highway #169 in Onamia, the the Soo crosses via an immense bridge, and I’d always wanted to walk over it.  S o, we started in the heart of town and followed it out a way, on a warm, sunny afternoon, and returned.  I want to do various sections of this trail, too; preferably in the woods.

 

Overpass on Highway #169, Onamia

 

Onamia

Hike #5: April 28, 2012 (today!).

I had the idea to go to Riverside Park in Milaca and check it out, which we did…but a walking wonderland, it’s not.  Great for picnics, or landing your canoe, and would be fantastic for frisbee.  So, after walking the river as far as we could, we headed back to the Milaca trail system and did the “red” (difficult”) section again, for about an hour.  Lots of up and down, lots of trees, and since today was very cold and overcast, it was, at times, nearly spooky…but that only added to the fun.

 

 

Canoe landing, Riverside Park, Milaca MN

Riverside Park

Into the Woods, Milaca Trails

 

Mushrooms, anyone?

 

I. Love. Forest. And Justin...

 

Trestle bridge over the Rum.

I’m Here!

Sort. Pack. Stack. Load. Unload. Sort. Store.

Scream.

Yeah, so we’ve all moved before.  I’ve moved (at last count) 12 or 13 times. But this summer had the added excitement of not only moving my and my husband’s household (which is still in-process), but move my parents’ household and sell their house, AND move my mother’s room from one Alzheimer’s care facility to another one.

And our combined five cats.

While I’m preparing for a new teaching position, with totally new courses, in a whole new part of the state.

The fact that I’m actually using a computer in my new home, hooked up to internet, with a coffee mug full of coffee that was actually brewed right here and isn’t from a Starbuck’s paper cup (not that there’s a Starbucks here in east-central rural Minnesota) is a testament to all the hard work done by my husband, my father, our loyal and selfless friends and family members, and my in-laws.

So, while I have a minute (I’m taking a break from my course planning, as classes start in THREE DAYS [gasp]) I’ll share some of the truly lovely things I’ve noticed about my new town, new school, and new life living with “my guys” (my 87-year-old father and my husband, and, again, our five cats).

I love, love, LOVE my new house. Seriously.  It’s so great that all the consternation over getting it (see previous entries) is worth it, several times over.  I’m undeserving of this, and so very, very lucky. I’ll share some of my favorite snapshots over the last couple of weeks so you can see what I’m talking about.

My backyard, during a light rain. Seriously. I live here.

 

Having breakfast with my husband in the gazebo.

Scandinavian collection on mantle on one of the TWO fireplaces.

A fibromite's dream bathroom!

I love my new town; everyone I’ve come into contact with from the hardware store to the grocer’s to the pharmacy to the cell phone shop have been delightful and extremely helpful. I’ve been enjoying the farmers’ markets around, and natural resources.

Behind our woods, there are forest trails!

Farm Market Café, in Onamia, MN...uses all local ingredients from local markets.

I love my new school!   The administration and faculty and staff have been some of the loveliest and most helpful people I’ve ever met. I’ve laughed with my colleagues, and been included on gatherings, all week during in-service, and my initial reactions to the school during my interview (I thought it was welcoming and happy) have been borne out. I’m excited to begin my new professional life here.

 

My new universe. 🙂

I Gotcher Irony Right Here…

It’s long been an idiosyncracy of my nature that while I love art (and started college as an art major, even) and literature, I just can’t get into graphic novels or comic books, no matter how hard I try.  And I have tried. (You’ve met my husband and most of my friends, perhaps?  Geek squared. Love ’em.) I can’t even get into Neil Gaiman graphic novels, which is saying something as I’m a huge fan of his fiction, and I do find the artwork brilliant. Something in my brain just…doesn’t…compute.

The same sort of thing happens with Musical Theatre.  I love plays.  I love music.  I dislike them together.

I recently compared myself to the King of Swamp Castle in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, in that every time Herbert starts wanting to sing the drama around me, I turn it off.  Just the way I am.

And, of course, just as most of my friends love comics, I, too, am surrounded by people who love musicals.  I mean, my husband and half my friends direct and/or act in them.  And I love these people.

Here’s the funny part (you knew it was coming).  I’m now the new artistic director of the school musical at my new job.

I’ll pause a minute to give everyone who knows me a few moments to giggle, snort, and thank the gods for the gift of irony.

Done yet?  No. Okay, I’ll wait.

Okay. Yeah. So, I like a challenge.  And, as I also recently said, trying to bolster myself, at least it’s not Prom Advisor (an activity for which I have so much venom and nausea that were I Queen of the Universe, I’d eliminate entirely from schools everywhere). So, it’s not all bad. And I’m not alone–the school’s new Music teacher will be my partner in crime, and our correspondence thus far has been a lot of fun, and I look forward to working with her.

The problems remain, however.  I, a person whose only musical theatre “likes” are Jesus Christ Superstar (how can you NOT like that, and I’m not even religious), The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Tim Curry in a merry widow trumps all musical qualms), Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s “Once More With Feeling,” and Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along  Blog (these last two are Joss Whedon, and if he were holding *prom* I’d love it, no matter what) has to find something workable for high school students–students I’ve yet to meet in a school I’ve yet to work in–and put on a production before Thanksgiving.

Frank n Furter

Frank n Furter

I’m suddenly finding myself in my husband’s bailiwick, saying things like “perusal scripts” and “performance rights” and “blocking.” I never wanted to be in my husband’s bailiwick, and it feels very strange.  HE SHOULD BE DOING THIS, is what I’m thinking.  HE’S THE DIRECTOR, not I.  I teach plays and occasionally act in Shakespeare. I don’t know from choreography and cheating out and periaktoi*.

On the other hand, I like learning new things, and like I often do, I’ve jumped into this with both feet. I’m scouring online for titles and terms; I’ve bookmarked “how to produce a musical” websites.  I’ve posted to facebook and watched the hilarity ensue. And, of course, there’s the fact that on long drives, my husband and I like to sing select musicals, a capella, together. (I cannot sing. I can read music, and I did have eleven years of piano lessons and short stints of clarinet and guitar lessons.)

But all of that prep work is a cakewalk to actually facing a group of kids, night after night, to put on an actual show. I’m terrified. And excited.  And laughing my butt off about the whole thing.

HSM

HSM

* I call these things pterodactyls; far easier.  🙂

Googly Moogly, Neighbor!

I do not work for, or get renumeration from, Google. Not that I’d turn it down, mind you, but so far they haven’t called me. (*checking voice mail*.)

However, let me just state for the record that I’ve been a Google fan since, back in 1999 or 2000, my friend Spooner said, “Hey, you gotta check this new search engine out…it’s got a ‘I’m feeling lucky’ feature!” And it was bright and clean. And then the doodles started. And then, in 2005, the best things since sliced bread (and sports bras): Gmail.  I got my first invitation from a discussion board friend in New York with whom we were staying during a fourteen-state-plus-Canada road trip. I had goosebumps after he showed me what it could do.

My next epiphany, being a travel AND cartography nut, was, of course, Google Earth. I still can spend hours “traveling” via the program. I don’t know how I ever lived without it.

Following, of course, has been Google docs, bookmarks, reader…everything that keeps my life interesting, handy, portable, neat, and organized.

I’m now up to four gmail accounts.   Yes, yes, I know…the features are so good I could just use one and keep things separate.  However, with privacy issues and whatnot, I maintain four.  One for my general, every day stuff.  One that used to be just for family but is now my professional account.  One I keep just to catch the detritus from facebook (and perhaps another site or two that generate a lot of stuff I don’t want to deal with). And now, as of yesterday?  After years of wanting this but getting no traction? An official WORK GMAIL ACCOUNT.

Woot!

My new district has gone to the undark side (still, cookies) and is using google apps, and I’m the owner of a brand new work-sanctioned gmail account AND Google Sites.  I’m so giddy, I’m seeing in primary colors.

This also means I spent about eight hours yesterday (yes, you read that correctly) setting it up, importing bookmarks and sharing between my accounts, setting up two Google Plus accounts (one associated with my regular life and one professional, although this latter cannot be tied to my new work mail because profiles aren’t allowed, for some reason), and starting on Sites for my homepage and classes (although I’ll have Moodle2, as well…oh, will the fun never END?!?)

I’m aware that amongst those reading this, and even within my own circles (common parlance, in this case, and not Google Plus speak), those individuals who would find such tasks as…dare I say…”onerous.”  I do not understand these people. I had a fantastic day yesterday, playing around with new tools, getting my feet wet with Google Plus, jumping in with the Sites wiki-based platform, networking and coordinating and sharing Google docs between accounts. I have chosen themes to accompany each account and its newly-focused task. I am using the new Gmail template (clean and bright and wonderful) for one of them. I have downloaded the G-Whizz! app for my iPod. I have added gplus.to shortened URLs to my accounts, and added one to my LinkedIn. I have done twitter searches on new features.

I have experienced bliss.

I accept Google as my new overlords, and not just because Neil Gaiman’s son works for them, and despite their possibly being evil on one or two occasions. Long live the blue, red, green, and yellow!

Google Love

Google Love